There may be plenty of Italian restaurants in Dubai, but there aren’t many with a real Italian feel, let alone authentic Italian food.
As we set out to try Quattro Passi in the Viceroy Palm Jumeirah, we expected an average, half-hearted meal. But the restaurant by two-Michelin starred chef Antonio Mellino might just be the most Italian one in town.
The first Middle East branch hails from Mellino’s signature restaurant in Positano, Amalfi Coast, where it is considered to be one of the best in Southern Italy. The Dubai restaurant’s chef conveniently comes from Positano; further adding to the authenticity of our experience.
While we encountered several Italian chefs in Dubai, most said they were heavily challenged by the difficulty and cost of importing fresh ingredients to the desert city. But regardless of the cost, Mediterranean ingredients do not seem to be in shortage at Quattro Passi.
The burrata we opted for as a starter was undeniably fresh, with a creamy and rich taste. While the dish has become increasingly popular in the international scene, we found it is often served dry and tasteless.
Alongside the cheese, we opted for the beef carpaccio with black truffle and rocket, served juicy — the traditional way.
For the main course, we consulted the Italian staff. This was a major advantage since existing Italian restaurants hire other nationalities for cheaper labour.
As we were starting to feel full (we also had in-house baked Italian bread, which needless to say, was outright delicious), they were able to recommend a light pasta dish: the tubettone pasta. Served with tomatoes and buffalo ricotta, it was slightly seasoned but very flavoursome. We figure the fresh ingredients also play a role in highlighting the palate.
To our surprise, we were also presented with an off-menu dish: ravioli with smoke provola cheese. If there’s one lesson we’ve learned about Italian cuisine, it is that it’s all about the subtle but rich sauce. We devoured the dish and found it to be our favourite. We hope it to be introduced onto the menu sooner rather than later.
Upon choosing our dessert, we enjoyed the restaurant’s modern interior, befitting the hotel’s overall design. Still, white arches and wall sketches of Positano meant the venue had a traditional air about it.
For dessert, dolci, we enjoyed the signature tiramisu with mascarpone mousse, crunchy coffee biscuit. We found its sweetness was balanced by the bitterness of the concentrated and delightful coffee ice cream served alongside it.
We also opted for the mandarin mousse with citrus compote and orange sorbet; another light and slightly sweet option recommended to us by the staff.
Who knew the Italians made their dessert as good as their pasta?
To further back that argument, we were presented with a “surprise” complimentary dessert, offered to guests at the end of their meals, comprising coconut and raspberry filling inside a chocolate exterior. It was served with seaweed sponge as a subtle symbol of the Amalfi Coast. With that point, it is safe to say Quattro Passi was, indeed, the most Italian restaurant we have tried.
Cost for two without drinks: AED635 ($173)
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